13.COM 10.B.21

The Committee

  1. Takes note that Kazakhstan has nominated Traditional spring festive rites of the Kazakh horse breeders (No. 01402) for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

Traditional spring festive rites of the Kazakh horse breeders – taking place in Terisakkan Village in the Ulytau District of Karaganda Oblast – mark the end of the old and the beginning of the new yearly horse-breeding cycle. Rooted in traditional knowledge about nature and the age-old relations between man and horse, the rites involve skills inherited from nomadic ancestors, adapted to present-day reality. Preceded by year-long preparations, the main constituents of the practice are: ‘Biye baylau’ (literally, ‘tethering mares’), the ancient ‘first milking’ rite encompassing the separation of mares and foals from the herds, milking the mares, and celebrating with songs, dances and games; ‘Ayghyr kosu’ (figuratively, the ‘stallion’s marriage’), a recent rite for adjoining stallions in herds; and ‘Kymyz muryndyk’ (metaphorically, the ‘initiation of koumiss’), the ‘first koumiss sharing’ rite, opening the season of its production and sharing. The rites take around three weeks in total, until the koumiss sharing ceremonies, which take place in every household, are over. The rites open a new yearly cycle of reproduction and manifest traditional Kazakh hospitality. Faced with the forced transition in the twentieth century from a nomadic way of life to a settled one, bearers have adapted the traditional form of horse breeding to meet present-day conditions to ensure its continued viability.

  1. Decides that, from the information included in the file, the nomination satisfies the following criteria for inscription on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:

R.1:   The traditional spring festive rites of the Kazakh horse breeders are carried out annually to express gratitude to nature for the survival of people and horses though the long winter and ensure the fertility of the herds and the abundance of milk in the new season. The central social and cultural aspects of the rituals include the relationship between human beings and horses, friendship, mutual respect and support, unity and sharing within the local community. The rites are celebrated collectively and the social aspect, when family members and neighbours meet and rejoice together, plays a central role.

R.2:   The inscription would highlight the deep, hidden sacred meanings of traditional festivals, often overshadowed by the aesthetic and celebratory aspects of such traditions. It could promote dialogue among communities with similar ways of life both in Kazakhstan and beyond its borders. The related festivities also illustrate the creative use of the natural environment that helped people to adapt the tradition to the new living conditions after the transition from the nomadic to the settled way of life.

R.3:   The viability of the element is not threatened, as it is firmly rooted in the family environment and continuously transmitted. However, its practitioners are well aware of the negative impacts of the presence of external visitors attracted to the locality through an ethno-festival organized simultaneously with the ritual festivities. The safeguarding plan therefore concentrates on regulating their attendance during the rites and redirecting their participation to a newly formed koumiss festival in Ulytau. This step would ensure public awareness of the rituals is continuously raised without any direct interference with the practice. Thanks to the proposed monitoring system, the effects of the awareness-raising campaign would be controlled and local communities could react to any potential risks. The newly created festival would also strengthen contacts and encourage the sharing of experiences between horse breeders from Terisakkan and other smaller communities in Kazakhstan, where traditional horse breeding would be enhanced.

R.4:   The nomination file was prepared by the Initiative Group for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage, which included nine representatives of the tradition bearers and three experts. Besides these nine representatives, other community members were invited to add their comments. Practitioners submitted their consent in writing as well as in the form of a video recording. They expressed their views about the importance of the tradition for themselves and for the local population, and their letters and speeches proved that they agree to its inscription.

R.5:   The element is included in the National Intangible Cultural Heritage Register of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is updated whenever new information about the state of the element is available. The data concerning the traditional spring festive rites of the Kazakh horse breeders were collected during an inventory process led by museum experts in partnership with local communities, which culminated with the national listing in 2016.

  1. Inscribes Traditional spring festive rites of the Kazakh horse breeders on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

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